Yogurt cheese (aka labneh) is a Middle-Eastern preparation used in everything from sauces to enchiladas. It has a smooth and creamy texture, less sour than plain yogurt, and it’s just as easy to make at home. If you are out of your store-bought yogurt cheese, Here’s how to make it.
Choose your milk wisely
Store-bought or plain homemade yogurt will work for this, as long as it’s not on the watery side. Be sure to buy an unsweetened variety; otherwise, your labneh may be too sweet. Whole milk is a traditional choice, but you can use low-fat or non-fat too. Try goat or sheep’s milk yogurt for a tangier cheese with more protein if you’d like to experiment.
Yogurt Cheese Recipe
Makes about 1 ½ cups ¼ cup homemade plain yogurt or store-bought non-fat Greek yogurt Milk of your choice (about 1½ cups).
- Take Strainer and cheesecloth pastry brush, optional In a colander lined with cheesecloth.
- Set over a large bowl (or in the sink) to place the yogurt.
- Cover and allow to strain for 1–2 hours (depending on how thick you like your labneh).
- Discard the liquid that has drained from the yogurt.
- Transfer strained yogurt to another bowl.
- Add milk until your desired consistency is reached.
- Be sure to taste as you go and add your desired amount of salt.
- Stir and mix until well blended.
- Serve or store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
- 1 teaspoon sea salt per ½ cup yogurt cheese
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How long will it last?
Yogurt cheese can be kept refrigerated for up to 1 week.
What will it taste like?
Yogurt cheese can be used anywhere you would use traditional cream cheese. Enjoy with garlic bread, on vegetables, or in baked recipes. You could even take a dip by adding some drained canned beans and a little lemon juice to the cheese. Sprinkle with fresh herbs for garnish, and enjoy!
Is Greek yogurt the same as yogurt cheese?
No, Greek yogurt is a strained yogurt that’s even thicker than labneh. It can be made at home or purchased in stores. It comes in several varieties, including low fat and nonfat, as well as flavored (with herbs, spices, or fruit), which are known as “strained” or “Greek-style” yogurts. However, it can be hard to find unflavored Greek yogurt.
What cheese is made from yogurt?
A variety of cheeses like halloumi, manouri, and mizithra are made from yogurt. The oldest known recipe for cheese-making is a Greek one that calls for strained yogurt to be curdled with rennet—Halloumi, named after the Turkish town of its origin.
Halloumi is a brined cheese steamed before it’s sliced and eaten. Its firm texture makes it similar to mozzarella.
Manouri is a fresh, soft cheese used in Greek stovers (stuffed bread) or as an accompaniment to salads.
Mizithra, a feta-like cheese from Lesvos, is used in Greece more as a table cheese than an ingredient.
How does yogurt turn into cheese?
When you let the milk set on your countertop, it becomes an “un-cooked” cheese with a similar consistency to cream cheese. After culturing (or fermenting), the mixture separates into curds and whey. The whey can be poured off or is often used in soups and recipes, while the “curds” are used in cheese and other recipes.
Keep your labneh fresh by always covering it with a lid or with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the labneh. Labneh should be stored in an airtight container. It can be refrigerated (3 to 5 days), frozen (4 months) or even open-air dried at room temperature (2 to 3 weeks).
Yogurt Cheese Storage Options
Here are some quick tips for storing yogurt cheese safely:
• Keep it fresh:
Store in an airtight container lined with a paper towel and refrigerate. Change the paper towel each time you change the labneh for extra freshness.
• Freeze it
Line a freezer-proof container or bag with plastic wrap, and place the labneh inside. Freeze for 2 to 4 months. Defrost at room temperature or in the refrigerator overnight before use (you can even thaw it on your countertop).
• Store it outside
Cover with cheesecloth to keep bugs out if you prefer to leave your labneh out as a snack. Change the cheesecloth every few days to keep it fresh.
• Mix it up
Enjoy your labneh with a bit of salt, garlic powder, or red pepper flakes sprinkled on top.
Yogurt Cheese Recipe Ideas
Here are some incredible yogurt cheese recipe ideas:
- A creamy, high-protein topping on baked potatoes and roasted veggies.
- A creamy addition to baked macaroni and cheese. Try our recipe in The Ultimate Make-Ahead Cookbook (page 94).
- Serve with cut-up vegetables, crackers, or bread for a quick appetizer.
- Add it to your favorite salad or sandwich.
- Stir into cooked grains to add protein (we like black beans or garbanzo beans).
- Mix with mayo for a delicious spread on sandwiches.
- Thinned out, it makes a perfect dip! Add vegetable crudités, fresh herbs, or red pepper flakes and enjoy.
How do you make white cheese with yogurt?
White cheese is made when yogurt is drained until all of the whey has been removed. It takes about 2–3 days for Greek-style strained yogurt or about 5 hours for regular yogurt (instructions below).
To make white cheese with either:
1. Line a strainer with two layers of dampened cheesecloth and place it over a bowl.
2. Add the yogurt and let it drip into the bowl for about 5 hours (for regular servings) or 2 to 3 days (Greek-style).
3. Stir once or twice during this process for better results. When the cheese is ready, it should have a consistency similar to that of ricotta cheese.
4. Feel free to either store the cheese in a bowl or drain off any remaining whey and transfer it to an air-tight container. You can now enjoy your white cheese with crackers, veggies, or even in recipes!
Yogurt White Cheese Recipe Idea
Here are some fantastic yogurt white cheese recipe ideas:
- A creamy topping for baked potatoes and roasted vegetables.
- A creamy addition to baked macaroni and cheese.
- Serve with cut-up vegetables, crackers, or bread for a quick appetizer.
Add it to your favorite salad or sandwich.
How To Make Mozzella Cheese From Yogurt?
Making mozzarella cheese from yogurt is not a conventional method, as mozzarella is traditionally made from milk. However, you can make a cheese similar in consistency and taste to mozzarella using yogurt. Here’s a simple recipe:
- 4 cups plain yogurt (preferably whole milk yogurt for a richer texture)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
- Cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer
- Wooden spoon
- Plate and weight
Line the strainer with a cheesecloth and place it over a large bowl to catch the whey.
Pour the yogurt into the cheesecloth-lined strainer. If desired, mix in the salt to enhance the flavor.
Gather the edges of the cheesecloth and twist them tightly to squeeze out as much whey as possible.
Tie the cheesecloth and hang it over the bowl, allowing the yogurt to strain for 8-12 hours or overnight in the refrigerator. The longer you strain it, the thicker and firmer the cheese will become.
After the straining process, remove the strained yogurt from the cheesecloth. The result should be a soft, semi-solid cheese similar to mozzarella in texture.
Shape the cheese into a ball or log, and then store it in the refrigerator, wrapped in plastic wrap or stored in an airtight container. Use it within a week.
Please note that this cheese will not melt or stretch like traditional mozzarella, but it can be used as a spread, in salads, or on top of dishes for a creamy, tangy addition.